DONEGAL SOCCER

St. Catherine's clinch Division One title at Emerald Park

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Frank Craig

Reporter:

Frank Craig

St. Catherine's clinch Division One title at Emerald Park

St. Catherine's celebrate

St. Catherine’s FC are the new Division 1 league champions following their narrow win over Bonagee Utd on Sunday.

St. Catherine’s 2

Bonagee Utd 1

In a dramatic encounter at Emerald Park, it took a supreme effort from the hosts to finally see off a determined Utd. The visitors – chasing promotion themselves – looked like they were going to upset the Saints’ party when they levelled matters just before the break.

That’s the way it remained right up until the 75th minute when title hero Ryan Farrell netted the decisive winner. The home side had bossed the early exchanges with veteran pair David Conwell and Daniel Breslin threatening to make the breakthrough.

Against the run of play, Bonagee also went close when Aidan McLaughlin blazed over. On 17 minutes Brendan McGuire fired one on target but it was easily smothered by John Carr in the Utd goal. Carr was called into action again soon after when he denied Conwell after a clever and deft layoff by Breslin had forged the shooting opportunity.

On the half-hour mark, Bonagee had legitimate claims for a penalty when the bouncing ball shot up and hit Evan Broderick’s careless outstretched arm. Those appeals were waved away – much to the annoyance of the visitors.

Moments after a super ping by Breslin, on the volley and from outside the area, flew high and into the stanchion as the Killybegs men grabbed the lead. However, less than four minutes later Utd were back on level terms thanks to a cool finish from Aidan McLaughlin.

Half-time: St. Catherine’s 1-1 Bonagee Utd.

Following the restart, a much-improved Bonagee continued to make life difficult for St. Catherine’s. Eamonn Cannon’s delivery from a free kick missed everyone and almost sneaked into the net. But alert and quick feet from Mullin saw the home ‘keeper shuffle across and make the save.

Up the other end, a super delivery from out wide by Breslin just evaded the studs of Farrell’s sliding boot. Roles reversed, a bullet of a header by Breslin from Farrell’s corner just missed the post. 20 minutes from time a huge moment, possibly the deciding factor, arrived when Michael Mullin produced a wonder stop to deny Bonagee from taking the lead.

Andrew Connolly’s corner was met head on by McLaughlin. The effort seemed to be heading for the top corner. But Mullin somehow managed to extend an instinctive paw that that deflected the ball onto the underside of the crossbar.

Bonagee felt the drop down had crossed the line. But St. Catherine’s were given the benefit of the doubt. And, moments later, they grabbed that crucial winner through Farrell.

For their overzealous remonstrations, Bonagee were reduced to 10 men as McLaughlin was dismissed. The Saints had chances through Farrell and Conwell to make the final moments a little less nervy for the home support but they were passed up.

Still, St. Catherine’s held onto their lead at the second attempt and, in the process, clinched the Division 1 title.

St. Catherine’s: Michael Mullin; Christopher Cunningham, Christopher Murrin Evan, Broderick, Ryan Carr; Ryan Farrell, Gary McHugh, David Conwell, Niall Campbell; Brendan McGuire, Daniel Breslin.

Subs: Steven Leslie for B McGuire (56mins), Donal McGuire for N Campbell (77mins).

Bonagee Utd: John Carr; Shane Kelly, Daragh Harper, Glen Rainey, Noel O’Donnell; Graham Hunter, Eamonn Cannon, Darren Hunter, Andrew Connolly; Mark Hunter, Aidan McLaughlin.

Subs: Shane Kelly for M Hunter (68mins), Joe Friel for G Hunter (79mins).

Referee: Paddy Duffy.